We’ve observed some common themes over our 15+ years of representing parents of children with special needs. One of those is how completely exhausted many loving and caring parents can become when raising an exceptional child. This consistent theme includes parents of children with ASD, ADHD, mental health issues, developmental disabilities, medically fragile children and others. Often, parents appear to have super-human energy reserves and fortitude. In reality, they may be more akin to what my grandmother (who was a sharecropper) knew as “bone-tired”.
Extreme time and energy demands can lead to poor diet, tension and anxiety. Chronic worry and hyper-vigilance can promote insomnia and sleep deprivation. Lack of rest can result in mental and physical exhaustion. Sure, love can fuel a parent’s super-powers of determination, creativity and seemingly unlimited reserves. However, love can also be literally exhausting.
In her 2015 thesis, Fatigue in Parents of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: The Role of Parental and Child Factors for Mothers and Fathers, Clinical Psychologist candidate Sarah Elizabeth Ivens, examined exhaustion in parents of children with ASD. In what may be the first study of its kind examining both mothers and fathers, Ivens concludes that exhaustion can negatively influence parenting. Higher levels of fatigue are linked with lower levels of parent satisfaction. Conversely, her research samples show that lower levels of fatigue are associated with more positive parenting outcomes, namely parenting satisfaction and parenting self-worth.
How can parents avoid chronic exhaustion and fatigue? In her article, 5 Things You Can Do Today to Prevent Autism Parent Burnout, special needs parent, advocate and blogger Kpana Kpoto, suggests these tips to get started:
1. Keep up with your annual medical and dental checkups. Our physical health is so important. We are no good to our children or ourselves when we are sick.
2. Consider counseling. Being in good mental health is critical. Push past any stigma and get help when we need it. Taking care of children is not easy. Sometimes it can overwhelm even the strongest parent.
3. Tap into the entitlement services in your state to get access to services. Respite services can be a godsend. Don’t be discouraged by long-wait times for high-quality services. Please do not give up.
4. Steal moments in your day to have some “me time.” I have learned that we have to think outside the box when it comes to self-care. Maybe some of us do not have anyone to watch our children. This means that self-care will have to come in other forms. It could be as simple as reading for pleasure during our commute to work or waking up before the kids to exercise. It could even mean watching a Netflix movie with some popcorn and a glass of wine once the kids are in bed. If you do have a support system in place, then you have more options. Make time for date nights, girl’s or boy’s night out, or even going out alone.
5. Ask for help. I know this sounds simple, but it can be tough to let others know that we need them. The reality is most of the people around us are caught up in their own lives. We really can’t fault them for that. If we need help, we need to ask for it. It is that simple. Ask the people in your life (family, friends, associates, agencies) for help. We do not have to do this alone.
Save the Date!
Ms. Adams will be presenting a work shop on, “The Top 5 IEP Mistakes and How to Avoid them”, at the Support For Families with Disabilities Resource Fair on Saturday, April 7, 2018 at 11:00 A.M. It will be located at the John O’Connell High School, 2355 Folsom Street, San Francisco CA 94110. For more information please email: firstname.lastname@example.org. or call us at 800-785-6713.
We appreciate your continued support and referrals. ADAMS ESQ now has offices throughout California and Nevada to serve you. If you believe you may need legal assistance as your child transitions to the new school year, please contact us toll free at: 800-785-6713 or visit us on the web at: www.AdamsEsq.com.
— Jean Murrell Adams
“Making a difference…one child at a time.”
Disclaimer :The information and materials on the ADAMS ESQ newsletter do not represent the opinion of our attorneys, employees, clients, or any other viewers of our newsletters.Materials in the newsletter do not constitute legal advice.Although information is updated periodically, there is no guarantee that it is accurate, complete, or current.We recommend that all users seek the advice of their attorney before acting on any of the information available in this newsletter..